Results 1 to 3 of 3

Thread: RTR VII Preview II (The Balkans - Part One and The Getai)

  1. #1
    Member Member -Finn-'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    Default RTR VII Preview II (The Balkans - Part One and The Getai)

    RTRVII Preview Two

    The Balkans - introducing the Getai


    Welcome to the second of our RTRVII Previews. Following the tradition set by FOE and our earlier campaign release TIC, these previews will not only give you a taste of what's to come, but also background essays from, amongst others, our Chief Historian HamilcarBarca, aimed at providing an historical context of the times and help deepen your immersion in the campaign. They will also bring you informataion on the new units being introduced and updates on what's happening in the RTR team and our progress.

    So, please read on and enjoy!

    What is RTRVII?

    Rome Total Realism VII is the Grand Campaign that we have been promising you, and to which RTRVII: TIC and RTRVII: FOE are predecessors. In many areas the RTW engine will be maxed out with this project, as we take the new gameplay elements introduced in FOE even further. This is a Grand Campaign with a difference! With a map extending from the Atlantic coast to barren interior of Asia Minor, it does not geographically cover the area traditionally represented in a grand campaign, but this is certainly not a miniature mod, the ground that is covered is done so in epic proportions! Dimensionally, it is the largest that the RTW engine can support - this is a map that lets you breathe! From the densely populated Greek lands and Italy, to the wide open spaces of Gaul, Iberia and Africa, RTRVII is a full conversion of RTW in every sense of the phrase. With it we will achieve what we have been aiming for since the days of RTR 6 Gold and Platinum, which is to truly represent the situation in the Western Mediterranean of 280 BC and to make it the most enjoyable experience for you. If you enjoyed TIC, and were impressed by FOE, then RTR VII will give you the ultimate RTR experience on the RTW engine - it will blow you away!

    Rome Total Realism VII begins in 280 BC, a world that is as dangerous as its political situation is complex. In the west, mighty Carthage seeks to expand the borders of its trading empire, while in southern Italy, the charismatic King Phyrros of Epeiros, looked on by many as the heir of Alexander, has launched an invasion to suppress the power of the rising Roman Republic. To the east the Greek nations continue to descend into turmoil. Macedon is a shadow of its former self. The mighty kingdom, forged on the tips of its sarissas by Philip and his legendary son, Alexander the Great, has been fragmented by rebellion, Pella, its capitol, lost. What is left are isolated settlements, spread between Byzantion and Korinthos.

    Can you reunite this once great realm at the head of the Antigonid dynasty, or will you seek to take advantage of its weakness and mop up the remains as the Aetolian League, or the barbarian hordes, including the mysterious Getai, deep from their lairs in the dark Balkan forests? But the Aetolian League does not have a free hand as, to the south, it's jealous rivals in the Achaean League maintain a constant vigil for any weakness and opportunity. And deep south of the Peloponnese , the enigma that is Sparta, which way will they jump?

    No land is safe, no peoples are willing to be tamed, the world is on the brink of war - Total War - and only one will survive.

    The Balkans 359-277 BC: Macedonia, Thrace, Illyria and Celtic migration and invasion (Part One)]The Balkans 359-277 BC: Macedonia, Thrace, Illyria and Celtic migration and invasion (Part One)


    In Hellenistic history the Balkan Peninsula typically appears as an indistinct borderland, on the edge of Greek ‘civilization’, populated by little understood ‘barbarian’ tribes. The indigenous Illyrian and Thracian peoples are largely understood through the eyes of the ancient Greek sources. Yet the inhabitants of the Balkans were much more than primitive ‘barbarian’ raiders of the ‘civilized’ Greeks. Beginning in the 7th century BC, a string of Greek colonies along the West Pontic coastline stimulated a prosperous trade with the eastern Balkans, interacting with native Getai, Scythians and Thracians, exchanging Greek manufactures, olive oil and wine for grain, slaves, honey, horses and raw materials, especially precious metals. This Black Sea trade grew particularly important to the large cities of Greece, especially Athens, who imported ever greater amounts of grain to sustain their swelling urban populations. In the Central Balkans, the Thraco-Illyrian Dardanians, Thracian Triballi and Illyrian Autariatae dominated, competing for land, and ever ready to raid southwards, into South Thrace and Macedonia, for booty and slaves. Along the Adriatic coastline, Illyrian tribes such as the Ardiaei and Taulantii lived on the edge of the Greek world, growing as a ‘barbarian’ threat to the neighbouring Macedonians and Greek-speaking Epirote tribes.

    Phillip II of Macedon and his son Alexander established a loose personal hegemony over much of the Balkans. The Illyrian Paionians, Dardanians and Taulantii, the Thracian Odrysai, Getai and Triballi, together with the prosperous West Pontic Greek cities, all acknowledged their sovereignty. This Macedonian hegemony decayed following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC. The ensuing wars of the Diadochi created a power vacuum that was exploited by local dynasts, who now enjoyed a period of independence. The Thracian kingdom of Odrysai rose anew in South Thrace, the Getai dominated the rich Wallachian Plain, while the independent Autariatae expanded their territory in the Central Balkans, at the expense of neighbouring the Triballi and Dardanians. The Paionian kings recovered their freedom, and Illyrian raiders again threatened Macedonia and the Epirotes.

    This period ended decisively with the ‘Celtic Catastrophe’. In the years 310-280 BC migrating Celtic populations overran the Central Balkans, destroying the Autariatae and Triballi, and gravely weakening the Dardanians. The kingdom of Odrysai was shattered by marauding Celtic expeditions, and Celtic settlers established the ‘kingdom of Tylis’ as the new power of South Thrace in 278 BC, extracting tribute from surrounding Greek cities (i.e. Byzantion) and Thracian tribes alike. The political and ethnic map of the Balkans was transformed, as Celtic populations established themselves as the masters of new territories. The weak Macedonian border proved a magnet for Celtic hordes in search of plunder: in 279 BC Macedon was defeated in a decisive battle, and Greece itself was invaded. After this crisis the Celtic tide receded, but the Scordsici in the Central Balkans and the ‘kingdom of Tylis’ in South Thrace remained, new Celtic polities in the Balkans. Related Celtic groups settled in ‘Galatia’ in central Asia-Minor, and Celtic mercenaries henceforth served eagerly for pay and loot in the armies of Hellenistic Greece and Macedonia.

    The Balkan Peninsula was a fascinating interaction zone during the Hellenistic period. The lower Danube was home to Greek trading cities like Istros and Kallatis, as well as nomadic Scythians and settled Thracian tribes. In the south-eastern Balkan Peninsula, south of the Danube, wealthy and complex Thracian kingdoms arose, of which the greatest were the Odrysai, who inhabited the Thracian Plain. North of the Danube, the Wallachian Plain was dominated by the Thracian Getai tribes or confederacy of tribes. The pastoralist Getai absorbed significant Scythian elements, and were proficient horse warriors. The Dacian tribes of the Carpathians and Transylvania were kin to the Getai, but their interactions were with the Celtic world of Europe rather than Greece. The Daci contested the western borders of their homeland with the advancing Celtic tribes that inhabited the Hungarian Plain and Po valley, as well as Germans (such as the Bastarnae) migrating south into northern Moldavia. The Illyrians of the western Balkans were partly Hellenized; Illyria had long bordered the Greek world. Greek trading cities like Epidamnus and Apollonia dominated the Adriatic sea-trade with the Illyrians; the border between the Greek and Illyrian world was a conflict zone, contested between powerful Illyrian supra-tribal kingdoms like the Dardanians and Taulantii and the Greek-speaking kingdoms of Epiros and Macedon. The Illyrian world was devastated by the Celtic invasions of 310-280 BC. Celtic populations flooded into the middle Danube valley; the Celtic Scordisci replaced the Illyrian Autariatae, and overran parts of the Dardanian and Thracian Triballi territories. The Celtic world erupted into Macedonia, Greece, South Thrace and Asia Minor in 280-276 BC

    Thrace and the Persian Empire

    In the late sixth century BC, under the rule of King Darius I (522-486 BC), the Persian Empire consolidated its westward expansion and annexed territories in Thrace (the date is set between 519 and 512 BC). Herodotus states that “Darius enslaved the Thracians”, implying that all of Thrace came under Persian control (4.118.1, cf. 4.118.5). The fourth century historian Deinon claimed that Persian kings brought to their treasuries water from the Nile and the Ister (Danube) as confirmation of their great territorial expansion and world power (Plut. Alex. 36.4). In the distant homeland of the Persians, Achaemenid inscriptions seem to allude to the Persian hold of Thrace through references to the subject status of Skudra (usually identified with Thrace or possibly with still wider territory encompassing Macedon as well) and representatives of Skudra take their place among the subjects of the king on Achaemenid reliefs. The fulcrum of Persian control was the new road between the Cheronesos and Macedonia, reinforced by a series of garrison forts. Greek texts are our chief source concerning Persian rule in the Balkans, confirm the existence of permanent installations in the southern part of Thrace (Herodotus, 7.107 (Eion); 7.59, 7.105-106 (Doriscus); 7.33, 9.116 (Sestos).

    The conquest of Thrace was accomplished by Darius I and completed by his general Megabazus. King Alexander I of Macedon also submitted to the Persian King at this time, and Macedon thus became a client kingdom with the system of the Persian empire. In Herodotus, Thrace is merely the passage to Scythia; the conquest of Thrace is a business merely subsidiary to the main business, the conquest of Scythia. When the design of conquering Scythia turns out to be a fable, the feat of conquering Thrace begins to assume different proportions. The necessary and obvious inference is that the object of Darius I was the conquest of Thrace, and that, instead of Thrace being merely the preface to Scythia, Scythia, whatever is left of it, was the appendix to Thrace. And we may add that, as Herodotus has exaggerated the work of Darius beyond the Danube into fabulous dimensions, so he has underrated his work in Thrace. He represents the reduction of the warlike Thracian tribes as ‘a walk over’. All submit except the Getai, ‘the most warlike of the Thracians’.

    Persian control in Thrace was weak, and only lasted around fifty years. About 495 BC a Scythian raid reached the Propontis, and Darius’ son-in-law, Mardonius, had to reconquer South Thrace before the Persian invasion of Greece in 492 BC. Then, and also during Xerxes’ invasion in 480 BC, the South Thracians were on the side of Persia, but after the double failure of Marathon and Salamis, and the Athenian-led counter-attack, resulting in the capture of Sestos in 478, Persian withdrawal from Europe was inevitable and a decade or so later was complete.

    The first encounter with a centralized autocratic power made a strong impression on the South Thracians. The Persian satraps, Megabazus and Mardonius, are likely to have delegated considerable power to tribal chiefs, especially no doubt to the Odrysai, who had not opposed the Persian arrival and were strategically placed at the eastern end of the Thracian Plain. The Persian concept of kingship linked with the supreme deity was easily capable of syncretisation with the Thracian tradition of an heroic leader who developed into a semi-divine clan or tribal ancestor.

    Following the Persian withdrawal from the Balkans, presumably by the mid 460s at the latest, native Thracian dynasts appear to be mentioned in our texts, the most prominent among them being the kings of the Odrysai (Latin: Odrysae). Thucydides, writing in the last decades of the fifth century BC, states their power to have surpassed in greatness (and apparently in revenues) that of any other state located between the Ionian and the Black Seas (2.97). Within a decade of the Persian withdrawal, the Odrysai under King Teres I had formed the nucleus of a state, which must have emerged soon after Xerxes’ defeat at Salamis in 480 BC, extending from Aegean and Turkish Thrace to the Ister (Danube).

    King Teres I and the Odrysai only embarked on military operations after the Greeks had driven the Persians out from their garrisons at the mouths of the large rivers in Thrace, and from the Aenus (Enez) garrison at the mouth of the Maritsa, i.e. 480-460 BC.
    In the final decades of the fifth century and in the first half of the fourth, Odrysian rulers vied for power in the north with Athens and the kingdom of Macedon until their power was brought to an end by Philip II of Macedon’s conquests.

    It is clear that the Greek cities on the West Pontic coastline enjoyed good relations with the local Thracians, and local chieftains profited from the trade with the Greeks in local farming produce and slaves in exchange for Greek luxuries. The whole coastal area was enriched by this trade throughout the 6th- and 3th-centuries BC. The exchange of Greek ceramic and silverware, as well as olive oil, wine and textiles, for grain, hides, fish, honey and slaves continued. This prosperity naturally attracted Scythian raiders.

    The slave-trade was one of the most important elements in the economies of the various societies in the northern Black Sea region. Trade in slaves was one of the most important branches of the ancient economy, providing its viability throughout almost an entire millennium. During that period much of the slave-holding history of western civilization was to a greater or lesser extent connected with the northern Black Sea region. Here we find the interaction of the main ethno-cultural formations of the early Iron Age: forest steppe and Scythia, Olbia and its chora, the steppes of the Crimea, Bosphoros, and Greece. Greece was always the main consumer of slave labour. In Greece slave labour was widely used in the household, but far greater still was the number of slaves employed in manufacturing and mining.

    Following the Persian withdrawal from Europe, the Scyths gathered their forces to invade South Thrace and fill the vacuum already being filled by the rulers of the Odrysai. When the Scyths advanced to the Ister (Danube), King Teres I had gathered an army to oppose them. By a peace treaty Teres gave his daughter in marriage to the Scythian King Ariapithes, already married to a Greek noblewoman from Istros (Histria), war was averted, and relations remained reasonably friendly. Only then could Teres turn south-east, against the Thyni. The Thyni inhabited the Strandja Mountain and the hinterland of the Sea of Marmara. Teres’ campaign against the mountain tribe was not very successful, but he did conquer the region between Salmydessus and the Bosphoros. It is not known what success he had to the south-west, the area towards which his sons and successors directed their attention. The Greek cities of the north Aegean coast looked to Athens to protect their independence from the powerful Odrysai. King Teres I had a very long life, most of which he spent at war, before dying aged ninety-two; it is difficult to tell the dates of his successors. One of his sons, Sparadokos, is known from coins, but it cannot be established if he was king or just the governor of a region.

    The reign of Teres illustrates the crucial role played by the strong corps of household cavalry. Moreover, the cavalry commanders probably had a political as well as military function, since it was from amongst these key figures that emerged the Thracian princes and nobles who received revenue from the king’s subjects just as the king himself did. They held the highest positions and probably controlled substantial units of land (Thuc. 2.97.3). Thus they formed the core of an aristocratic warrior elite, serving as personal retainers and royal counsellors rather like Macedonian hetairoi. Like them the Odrysian princes drew their revenues from country estates run by peasant farmers, while they themselves pursued a martial way of life (Hdt. 5.6; Xen. Anab. 7.7.1).

    Sitalkes’ succession to Teres sometime before 431 BC led his brother to seek asylum in Scythia. Here his Scythian cousin, Octamasades, raised a revolt against his half-brother Skyles, son of Ariapithes by his Greek wife and his successor. Skyles, pursued by the Scythians, took refuge with the Odrysai. The two armies met again on the Danube but once more hostilities were avoided by Sitalkes’ diplomatic suggestion of a mutual extradition of the two refugees (Herodotus, 4.76-80).

    The lower Danube as far west as the River Arges was a frontier between Thracians and Scyths for over two centuries. The Muntenian and Moldavian steppe between the Danube and the Dniester, ‘a desert and interminable tract’ (Herodotus 5.9-10), and ‘largely waterless Getic desert’ (Strabo, 7.3.14) was dangerous ground. Scythian relations with the west Moldavian Thracians, who included the Agathyrsi Biresti group, were hostile. The Scythian enclave to the Danube blocked any contact between north Moldavia and Transylvania and the Greek cities on the West Pontic shore. Excepting possibly some c. fourth century fragments at Cernica (Bucarest), this enclave has yielded only one Greek vase from this period, a mid-5th century Attic cup at Frumusita in south Moldavia. The disruption of the links between the Getai on either side of the Danube effectively restricted the trade of Istros, Tomis and Kallatis to the immediate hinterland.
    Odrysian relations with Athens and Macedon

    In the aftermath of the Persian Wars, Athens established herself as the hegemon of the Greek cities of the Aegean. The Greek cities of the northern Aegean coastline, such as Abdera and Potidaia (Kassandreia), together with those in the Thracian Chersonesos and Propontis, such as Byzantion, became clients of Athens. Athens was eager to defend them because they not only provided tribute to pay for Athens’ fleet, but also guaranteed Athenian domination of the Black Sea trade – and particularly the supply of grain that flowed from there to feed the populace of Attica and Athens itself. Some speak of the Athenian imperial strategy being dominated by the “grain route”, leading from the Hellespont to Athens, taking in notably Lemnos, Imbros, and Scyros. The Athenian empire of the fifth century BC was too rich and too powerful to fear grain shortages. If and when required, grain could be obtained from many different sources. This freed Athens from having to rely upon its own chora for grain – and so also freed it from fear of Greek hoplite warfare, which centred on the strategy of citizen armies devastating the agricultural land of rival city-states during short military expeditions undertaken during the summer months. In the third century BC this one-time Athenian strength evolved into a serious weakness: the city came to depend on grain imports, and struggled to sustain the wealth and navy required to sustain the “grain route”. Maintaining the security of the “grain route” meant that Athens interest in Thrace and Macedonia was of the highest priority.
    In Antiquity the polis of Byzantion afforded a spectacular view of the ships making their way in and out of the Black Sea. Situated as it was at the southern entrance of the Straits, on their European side (in the Golden Horn promontory), Byzantion played a crucial life of that region and also in that of the Mediterranean. Control over the Straits (or the Thracian Bosporos), which connected the two major seas, was of course what gave Byzantion its importance, from its foundation by (mainly) Megarian colonists in c. 660 BC, to Roman times and well beyond. In the mid-third century BC Byzantion enjoyed a privileged economic position, and the city-state secured a sufficient degree of political power to pursue its own interests. From 477 BC onwards Byzantion joined the tributary empire of Athens, the Delian League, and the Thracian rulers were effectively deprived of relatively wealthy tribute payers along the North Aegean coast and at the Bosporos.

    Building on King Teres’ foundations, Sitalkes, who had succeeded him by 431 BC, stabilized his southern borders by marrying the sister of Nymphodoros, the leading Greek from Abdera. Sitalkes was the greatest Odrysian king. He increased the pressure on the Aegean cities – members of the Athenian League – and firmly established the right of the Odrysian rulers to collect taxes from them. Ambitious and able, Sitalkes was courted by Athens and became her ally in the Peloponnesian War. His son, Sadokos, became an Athenian citizen, and Nymphodoros was appointed Athenian ambassador to Sitalkes and Tereus, king of the Asti tribe centred on Vize (Thuc. 2.29).

    Fragments of an Athenian decree or decrees of 430-29 BC refer to a substantial Thracian population in Athens and especially in Piraeus, no doubt the result of the lively trade in Thracian grain and slaves that flowed to Athens. Some Thracians reached positions of influence; Pericles appointed his Thracian slave Zopyros as tutor to Alciabiades (Plutarch, Alcib. 1.122).

    With satisfactory relations established with Scythia and Athens, Sitalkes then recognized the independence of border tribes like the Paionians, Dardanians, Agriani and Maidi (Latin: Maedi), thus forming a buffer zone, west of the Iskur and Strymon valleys, between Odrysian Thrace and Illyria. The Thracian Bessi also enjoyed virtual if not actual independence in the Rhodopes. On the south-west border the kingdom of Macedonia, although militarily weak, was dangerous. Its crafty king Perdikkas persuaded Sitalkes to reconcile him to Athens and refrain from helping his brother Philip, who had sought refuge in Thrace, in his claim to the Macedonian throne. This achieved, Perdikkas promptly abrogated his agreement. Joint Athenian-Odrysian operations were planned. In 429 BC Sitalkes invaded Macedonia at the head of an army which, swollen by followers seeking loot, was said to number 150,000.

    The Athenian Empire, 450 BC

    Note the Athenian presence along the North Aegean coastline, the Chersonessos or ‘Thracian Peninsula’, and Propontis

    From Athens came envoys and gifts, but not the promised naval aid. Thucydides says the Athenians did not believe Sitalkes would mount his invasion. In view of its great, even exaggerated size, ignorance of the event is hard to credit and the Athenian absence may have been due to a policy which Thucydides could hardly explicitly expose. Did Sitalkes’ strength lead Athens, despite Herodotus’ dictum on chronic Thracian disunity, to fear a future Thracian state impossible to manipulate and thus a threat to its coastal cities, access to timber for her ships, and the gold, silver and other resources essential to her power and survival? If a loyal ally was a greater threat than a treacherous enemy, Athenian interests dictated that, by withholding support, her barbarian neighbours would weaken each other. Sitalkes’ host ravaged the countryside of Macedonia for 30 days, but without Athenian ships and specialists could do little against the Macedonian cities. Sitalkes finally withdrew from Macedonia with the onset of winter, and the persuasions of his nephew and heir, Suethes, suborned by Perdikkas’ offer of his sister Stratonike as a well-dowered bride (Thucydides, 2.29, 95-101).

    For Athens, the immediate result was successful; Sitalkes remained an ally of Athens until his death in 424 BC during a campaign against the north-west Triballi tribe.
    Sitalkes was succeeded by his nephew Suethes I, who was, in the opinion of Thucydides, the king under whom the Odrysian state reached its greatest financial power. The taxes he collected in cash and kind amounted to 800 talents according to Thucydides and 1,000 talents according to Diodorus. Suethes I abandoned the idea of expansion to the south-west, and instead expanded into the Thracian Chersonesos, where he had only to confront Athenian military establishments remote from Athens itself. The aim of the expansion was to secure an outlet to the sea, which, it was hoped, would enable the Odrysai to occupy a leading position in south-eastern Europe.

    Suethes I was succeeded by Amadokos I in around 410 BC. Suethes II, vividly described by Xenophon (Anab. 7) was an insubordinate minor ruler in the south-east of Thrace. Little is known about the next quarter century, probably a time of weakness and division among the Odrysai, but by 384/383 BC Kotys I (383-359 BC) had liquidated his rivals and was reasserting Odrysian authority. Although cruel, hot-tempered, capricious and lascivious he succeeded by diplomacy in reuniting and strengthening the state to a stage where he could dispute control of the Propontic straits and the Thracian Chersonesos with Athens.

    Kotys I aimed to unify South Thrace, and he succeeded in neutralizing the powerful Getic and Triballian dynasties in the north through negotiation and gifts. He broke the power of some paradynasts in his own kingdom, and extracted greater taxes and tribute from his subjects to sustain his war against Athens in Chernonesos. Kotys I, like Philip of Macedon in later years, enlisted diplomatic agents in Athens, bought high-ranking Athenian officers who were sent against him, and even influenced the work of the Assembly of the People so that it made decisions that favoured his policy. He seized the whole of the Athenian Chersonesos with the exception of two settlements.

    King Kotys I met Philip II of Macedon just after the latter ascended the throne in the spring of 359 BC, in a locality in Western Thrace known as Onocarsis. They concluded a treaty guaranteeing their respective borders, and agreed to jointly fight Athens, but shortly afterwards Kotys I was assassinated by two Athenian conspirators, inhabitants of Ainos.

    After his assassination Kotys I was succeeded by his son, Kersobleptes (359-341 BC), but in order to curb Kersobleptes power the Athenians supported his brothers, Bresides and Amadokos, and forced the kingdom to be shared. Kersobleptes had the misfortune to be vanquished by Philip II in 341 BC. Philip’s pressure from Macedon, together with internal dissension with which Kersobleptes was unable to deal, meant that the state of Odrysai was partitioned in three – the western, central and eastern districts. These steadily fell to the Macedonians. Within two years all three kings made treaties with Athens, but the advance of King Philip II was inexorable, and Athens now found its presence in the north Aegean coast steadily replaced by the kingdom of Macedon.

    ‘Illyria’ and ‘the Illyrians’
    At its widest definition, ‘Illyria’ encompassed the eastern coastline of the Adriatic and the mountainous interior of the western Balkans (modern Albania, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia). Illyria was inhabited by a collection of Indo-European tribes known as Illyrians, who spoke a common language and shared a common material culture. Several notable Illyrian tribes migrated to Italy as late as the 7th-8th century BC, including the Iagyges and Messapi. The Etruscanized Veneti, who inhabited the head of the Adriatic Sea, were also Illyrian. In the eighth century BC the Greeks established colonies such as Epidamnus and Apollonia along the Adriatic coast, establishing an active trade with the surrounding Illyrian tribes.

    In the seventh century BC more powerful and complex tribal confederacies were formed in southern Illyria, perhaps stimulated by intensifying trade and cultural exchanges with nearby Greeks, and typically the work of successful individual ‘kings’. Ancient sources mention a certain Galaour, the ruler of the Taulantinoi, who, towards the end of the seventh century, waged wars against the king of Macedonia. Modern historians, interpreting a passage from Herodotus, have indicated that at this time an army of ‘Encheliae’, who lived around Lake Lychnitis (the present Lake Ochrid), invaded Greece and pushed as far as Delphi where they pillaged the sanctuary of the Oracle. For the next two centuries, wars became more frequent in southern Illyria and on its boundaries. The Illyrian tribes aimed not just at pillage; the Illyrian kings aimed to subjugate other Illyrian tribes into their federation.

    Illyrian society heavily depended on slavery; the Greek author Theopompos asserts that the Illyrians held some 300,000 ‘slaves’ in a manner identical to that of the Helots of Sparta. According to Agatharchidis, the Dardanians – a large Illyrian tribe on the Macedonian border – possessed many slaves; the wealthiest of them more than a thousand.

    Illyria was populated by a multitude of tribes deemed "barbarous" by Greek and Roman historians. Along the southern Adriatic coastline were the Ardiaei, who became rich and powerful as pirates; the northern Adriatic coastline was home to the Liburni (northern Croatia) and Delmatae (southern Croatia), both of whom were coastal tribes and seafarers.

    Ancient writers used the group-name “Illyrians” to refer to the Illyrian ethnos at its widest extent, including the inhabitants of much of the western and central Balkans. However, the term “Illyrian”, when used by ancient writers in a narrow, political sense, referred to a particular “Illyrian” polity. While several Illyrian kingdoms existed at the same time – the Taulantian, the Dardanian – those certain rulers whom the sources describe explicitly as Illyrian refer to the southern Illyrians, specifically the Ardiaei.

    In the period c. 380-300 BC it appears that the Illyrian tribes along the Adriatic coastline were dominated by the Taulantinoi, who inhabited the region of modern central Albania. At their peak, the Taulantinoi seized the Greek city-state of Epidamnus (modern Durrës), minting coins there, and even challenged Alexander the Great in 339 BC. By 250 BC the Taulantinoi appear to have broken into smaller Illyrian tribes, like the Atintani and Parthini.

    The Greek-speaking tribes of Epirus (modern southern Albania), such as the Chaoni, Thesprotians and Molossi may have originally been Hellenized Illyrian tribes. The linguistic, ethnic and cultural border between the Illyrians and the Epirote tribes was fuzzy, but could be found in the region between Oricum and Apollonia, between the rivers Aous and Osum.

    Different geographic conditions and unequal economic and social development prevented the Illyrians from ever forming a united state. Southern Illyria was alternatively dominated by the supra-tribal kingdoms of the Taulantii (c. 340-300 BC) and then later the Ardiaei ‘Kingdom of the Illyrians’ (250-168 BC), both of which had a federative character and (like neighbouring Epirus) were distinguished by the instability of their royal power. The kingdoms of the Dardani and Paionians were strong throughout this period, alternating between threatening Macedon and falling under its sway.

    The first great unifier was Bardhylus (“White Star”), who was probably of Dardania , who was able to establish a multi-tribal alliance of Illyrians. In 385 BC Bardyhlus, with allied troops provided by the tyrant Dionysius I of Syracuse, launched a successful campaign into north-western Greece, defeating the Greek-speaking Epirotic tribes, and establishing himself as the strongest power in southern Illyria.

    King Philip II came to the throne at a time when Macedonia appeared likely to be overwhelmed by its enemies. The Illyrians, led by King Bardhylus, had invaded Upper Macedonia and won a decisive victory over King Perdikkas III, killing him and 4,000 Macedonians. Bardhylus proceeded to detach several regions of Upper Macedonia (i.e. Lyncus, Orestis). An attack by the Paionians led by King Agis on Macedon’s northern border, and by King Kotys of Thrace on Macedon’s eastern borders, also appeared imminent. At this moment of crisis Philip II of Macedon (359-336 BC) assumed the throne, and he raised an army of 10,000 Macedonian foot and 600 cavalry with which to confront Bardhylus; Philip won a decisive victory, some 7,000 of the 10,000 Illyrians were slain, and Philip re-established his authority in Upper Macedonia. Bardhylus, reportedly ninety years old at the time of the battle, is heard of no more and may have been killed. Philip II then made peace with the defeated Illyrians, and married the Illyrian princess Audata, who took the Greek name Eurydike.

    Philip II then moved to bribe the Paionians and Thracians;

    “... the Paionians, who lived near Macedonia, began to pillage their territory, showing contempt of the Macedonians, and the Illyrians began to assemble large armies and prepare for an invasion of Macedonia, while a certain Pausanias, who was related to the royal line of Macedon, was planning with the aid of the Thracian king [Berisades] to join the contest for the throne of Macedon” (Diodorus, 16.2.5).

    Philip “... sent an embassy to the Paeonians, and by corrupting some with gifts and persuading others by generous promises he made and agreement with them to maintain peace for the present. In similar fashion he prevented the return of Pausanias by winning over with gifts the [Thracian] king who was on the point of attempting his restoration” (Diodorus, 16.3.4).

    Through a combination of battlefield prowess and wily diplomatic manoeuvring, King Philip II had consolidated his reign and secured (temporarily) Macedon’s borders. In the coming years, Philip imposed his central authority on Upper Macedonia and its dynasts, and created a national army, based around the reformed Macedonian phalanx armed with the sarissa pike and the heavy ‘Companion’ cavalry.

    In 357 BC the Illyrians again sought to challenge Macedonia. A certain Grabos (perhaps of the Grabaei or Taulantinoi tribes) came to power among the Illyrian tribes and made alliance with Lyppeois the Paionian, Ketriporis the Thracian and Athens. Philip II dispatched his general Parmenion to face the Illyrian threat, and Grabos was decisively defeated in 356. In 352/351 Philip campaigned against the Thracians, and in 351/350 against the Illyrians.

    “In Macedon three kings combined against Philip, - the kings of the Thracians, Paeonians, and Illyrians. For these peoples, inasmuch as they bordered on Macedonia, eyed with suspicion the aggrandizement of Philip; singly, however, they were not capable of sustaining a combat, each having suffered a defeat in the past, but they supposed that, if they should join their forces in a war, they would easily have the better of Philip. So it was that, while they were still gathering their armies, Philip appeared before their dispositions were made, struck terror into them, and compelled them to join forces with the Macedonians” (Diodorus, 16.22.3).

    Philip II forced the defeated Illyrian tribes on Macedon’s north-western borders to acknowledge his sovereignty and pay him tribute, and he established forts and Macedonians settlements at key points. In 350 BC Philip invaded Epiros and forced it to also accept tributary status; in 342 he installed his young brother-in-law Alexandros as King of the Molossi.

    The sphere of Macedonian power is demonstrated by the fact that in 345 BC King Philip II campaigned against King Pleuratus of the Ardiaei, this being the Illyrian tribe that dominated the region of Skodra and the Dalmatian coastline. In 337 Philip campaigned against Pleurias of the Dardanoi on the upper White Drin. Thereafter all the tribes of southern Illyria were subject to tribute paying and to the recruitment of auxiliaries.

    The Paionians

    The Paionians were an Illyrian-speaking people who were greatly influenced by both the Thracians to their east, and Macedon to their south.

    The Paionian tribes had by the mid-4th century formed a small kingdom north of Macedon. Throughout our period it was dominated by its southern neighbour. At the time of the Persian invasion, in 480 BC, the Paionians on the lower Strymon had lost their freedom, while those in the north maintained their independence. They frequently made inroads into Macedonian territory, until they were finally subdued by Philip II, who permitted them to retain their government by kings. The daughter of Audoleon, one of these kings, was the wife of Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, and Alexander the Great wished to bestow the hand of his sister Cynane upon King Langarus of Paionia to reward his loyalty to the royal house of Macedon.

    Under both King Lysimachos and the later Antigonid rulers of Macedon, Paionia was directly incorporated into Macedon. Paionian cavalry fought for Alexander, and Paionian infantry for Perseus. After 350 BC the Paionians were usually subject to Macedon, sometimes independent, and sometimes overrun by the Dardanians (Justin, 28.3.14.).

    The Agrianes were a small Paionian tribe not included in the Paionian state, but with a king of their own. They provided superb light infantry to Macedon during the period of Alexander the Great.

    The Triballi
    The Triballi lived deep in the interior of the Balkan Peninsula, between the lower course of the Southern Morava and the Isker (Herod. 4.49; Thuc. 2.96), far from the influences of the Hellenized shores of the Aegean and the Black Sea. Nevertheless, references to them in the second half of the fifth century BC show that they were then already fairly well-known to the Greeks. Strabo explicitly includes the Triballi among the Thracians (7.3.13, 7.5.6). It is not clear by what channels the Greeks came into touch with this distant people, but it cannot be attributed to mere chance that the earliest mentions of them are linked with Athens. By the middle of the fifth century BC there must have been enough Triballian slaves in Athens for the name to signify in Athenian eyes the personification of primitiveness, savagery, strange customs and outlandish appearance. These slaves may have reached Athens either via the West Pontic ports like Istros and Kallatis – which were members of the Athenian-led Delian League – or via the Odrysian kingdom, which maintained relationships of alliance and friendship with Athens. It is not impossible, moreover, that already by that time the Triballi, attracted by the riches of the Greek Aegean colonies, were undertaking far-reaching plundering expeditions (as we know they did in the fourth century BC), and this was the reason for their being spoken and written about.

    The Triballi appear to have reached the peak of their prosperity and strength in the fourth century BC. They disappear from the stage in the troubled times after the death of Alexander the Great and the ‘Celtic Catastrophe’. A few scattered references to them in later times show that the memory of the Triballi was preserved as the once greatest and most powerful tribe in the central region of the Balkans.

    The first historical mention of the Triballi, recorded by Thucydides, relates to the period of the Peloponnesian War. Here the Triballi appear as neighbours of the Odrysian kingdom. During the reign of the powerful King Sitalkes, the Odrysai united all the Thracian tribes in the north as far as the Balkan Mountains (Haemus), and to the west as far as the upper reaches of the Struma. Describing the boundaries of the Odrysian state, Thucydides mentions the Triballi as a people neighbouring on the River Isker with the Treres and Tilatai, the most westerly tribes within the compass of the Odrysian kingdom (2.96). At the time of Sitalkes raid on Macedonia (429 BC), the Triballi were independent. A few years later, Sitalkes was at war with them. Thucydides says that Sitalkes made war upon the Triballi and was defeated by them in battle, and that he died about the time of the conflict of Delion (i.e. 424 BC). The basic fact which emerges from this short record of the Odryso-Triballian war is that during the reign of Sitalkes the Triballi were on the defensive against their south-eastern neighbour. This does not mean, however, that this must necessarily have been the case earlier on, and we know that afterwards the situation changed in favour of the Triballi.

    The next event we hear of in Triballian history happened about fifty years later. This was the famous expedition of the Triballi against Abdera in 376/375 BC. That expedition, which took the Triballi right up to the walls of the wealthy Greek city on the shores of the Aegean, was certainly not their first or only exploit of this kind. If we bear in mind the break-up of the Odrysian kingdom under Sitalkes successors, especially after the death of his nephew Suethes I, we may reasonably suppose that the Triballi, taking advantage of this state of things, had carried out plundering raids into the country of their neighbours even before 376 BC, and had probably themselves contributed to the weakening of the Odrysian kingdom. The attack on Abdera was more renowned and left a more lasting trace than the other incursions of the Triballi because, amongst others, the Athenians themselves were effected by it. Three decades later we find an allusion to this event in Isocrates’ statement that the Triballi had destroyed not only the peoples in their vicinity, but everything else within their reach (Isocr. Panath. 12.227).

    A detailed account of the expedition of the Triballi against Abdera is preserved by Diodorus.

    “At that time, in Thrace, the Triballi, driven by famine, set out in full force across their frontiers to gather food in foreign parts. More than thirty thousand of them invaded the adjacent land of Thrace and ravaged without fear the territory of Abdera. They collected much booty and started back in unorganized fashion, not thinking of danger. Then the Abderites rose up in full force, attacked the Triballi as they were returning home in disorderly scattered groups, and slew more than two thousand of them. Thereupon the barbarians, enraged at what had happened, to revenge themselves on the Abderites, again invaded their land. The latter, carried away by their first success and relying on an auxiliary force sent by the neighbouring Thracians, drew up their lines in battle-order opposite the barbarians. A fierce encounter took place, and as the Thracians suddenly changed sides, the Abderites who were taking part in the battle, left to themselves, surrounded by the hosts of the barbarians, perished almost to a man. Just when the Abderites had fallen into this disaster, and might have been besieged, Chabrias the Athenian appeared with an army and rescued them from danger. He drove the barbarians from the country, and left a strong garrison in the city. But he himself fell victim to an assassin" (Diod. 15.36.1-4).

    Both our sources, Diodorus and Anaeas, agree that the defeat inflicted on Abdera was catastrophic. Numismatic evidence confirms that that really large and wealthy city never recovered from the blow.

    It is clear that the Triballi entered the neighbouring territory to obtain the food they lacked, and when they had seized their booty, they retired. This was neither a migration nor an invasion seeking to annexe territory. Most scholars, however, who have treated this question consider that the action of the Triballi must have been motivated by other reasons too. Some connect the movement of the Triballi with the coming of the Celts to the Balkan Peninsula, others with the eastward migration of the Illyrian Autariatae. The first theory has now been abandoned, for archaeological research has shown that there can be no question of Celtic pressure so early in the fourth century BC. Yet, as we shall see, it is also impossible to place the migration of the Autariatae in the first half of the fourth century BC, for their attack on Triballian territory must have taken place after Alexander’s expedition against the Triballi. It remains, then, to accept Diodorus’ explanation. There is nothing extraordinary in the fact that the Triballi, without any intention of migrating, crossed the wide area separating their territory from Abdera. We know from later history that such expeditions took place and they were not an impossibility. The Celtic Scordisci often traversed, on plundering expeditions, the wide area between the Danube and Macedonia and Greece. Unrest in the Odrysian kingdom may have attracted the Triballi to undertake a plundering expedition. In any case, the absence of any firm rule in South Thrace made their way to Abdera easier.

    After Abdera, there follow another few decades of complete darkness in the history of the Triballi. We hear of them again during the reign of King Philip II of Macedon.

    Philip II and the Macedonian Hegemony in the Balkans

    Philip II (382-336 BC) of the Argead dynasty (Greek: οἱ Ἀργεάδαι hoi Argeádai) had inherited the throne of Macedon at a time of acute weakness; his older brother, King Perdikkas III, had been slain and his army shattered by invading Illyrians led by King Bardylis (385-358 BC), and Macedon was a small, poor nation at the mercy of its neighbours. Yet by the time of his death, some forty years later in 336, Philip II had transformed Macedonia into the super-power of the Greek world.

    Philip II established himself as the undisputed sovereign of both Upper and Lower Macedonia, and the ruling archon of Thessaly. By 355 BC Philip had captured the Greek cities of Amphipolis, Potidaia (renamed Kassandreia) and Krenides (renaming the later Philippi), and gained control of the rich Pangaion mines. One by one, the Thracian rulers submitted and in 342-341 BC a final campaign conquered all Thrace south of the Danube, where his army stopped. No doubt for the sake of good relations father north, Meda, daughter of Kotelas, King of the Getai, became one of his seven wives. Philip II established himself as the overlord of the Illyrian and Thracian tribes of the southern Balkans.

    Philip established his power firmly in South Thrace. The In 342 Philip began a determined attempt to remove two of the Thracian kings, Kersobleptes and Teres (the son of Amadokos), who had caused him trouble so often. This required a long and difficult campaign into the Thracian interior, whereas before he had kept to the coast. It took him the rest of 342 and 341 to succeed. Philip went on to campaign into the Haemos (Balkan) Mountains, and made hostile contact with the Triballi, the main tribe between the hills and the Danube. On the other hand a treaty was made with the Agrianes, a tribe living in a strategic area near the headwaters of the Strymon, between the Triballi and the Paionians. In addition, Philip dominated the neighbouring Kingdom of Epiros (home of his wife Olympia), and effectively reduced it to the status of a client kingdom.

    King Philip II of Macedon established himself as the supreme authority over the southern Balkans; many of the Thracian and Illyrian tribes were obliged to become subordinate tributaries to the Macedonian throne. Philip also made contact with the Greek cities on the Pontic (Black Sea) coast – Istros, Kallatis, Apollonia Pontike and Mesembria – with which he made alliances. Philip and his senior general Antipater undertook several major military campaigns in the Balkans during the years 347-336 BC, defeating numerous Thracian tribes, including the Triballi, Getai and Odrysai, winning a major battle against the Scythians, and subjugating the Greek cities of the Western Pontic coast. Dardania, Paionia, the Agrianes, and several of the Illyrian tribes that inhabited the southern Adriatic coastline (i.e. the Taulantii) now became subordinate allies and tributaries to King Philip II, and Macedonia secured its long-vulnerable northern borders.

    It was Philip’s policy, as it was later Alexander’s, to tolerate native princelings until such time as they showed signs of treachery. In view of the practical problems of finding suitable and reliable local leaders in the wake of war, it would have made sense to confirm some members of the Odrysian dynasty and other tribal dignitaries if signs of cooperation could be detected. Co-operation of this kind can be deduced from the Odrysian levies which accompanied Alexander to Asia, including the javelin men of Sitalkes, quite possibly an influential aristocratic knight, although this man’s reputation was later besmirched by his implication in the murder of Parmenio (Arr. Anab. 3.26.3-4).

    The Macedonian conquest of Odrysian Thrace ensured a gradual but wider and permanent degree of Hellenization. The conquered lands were pinned down by several Macedonian garrison towns; Philippopolis (Plovdiv), Alexandropolis, Kabyle (near Yambol), Beroe (near Stara Zagora), and others, peopled by a variety of immigrants from Macedonia and elsewhere; and generous estates went to Companions (Hetarioi) and others who became eligible to become Companions. Macedonian garrisons were installed the West Pontic Greek cities like Istros, Tomis and Kallatis. The land was to pay a regular tax to the king. Its government seems to have been partly Thracian, partly from the cities which had been allocated substantial territories, and partly under Macedonian epimeletai (governors). The Thracian dynasties typically remained autonomous tributaries to Philip II. The territory of the Odrysian dynasty had, however, been considerably reduced in favour of the new local political centres. The Odrysai had shrunk to the area along the upper and middle reaches of the Toundja, where was Suethopolis, capital of Suethes III, the most famous Thracian king of the Hellenistic period.
    Settlers from Macedonia and the Khalkidiki were instrumental in the development of urbanization in the interior. Although not chosen for the purpose, the new colonists must have promoted the wider use of the potters wheel, ironworking, and of stone for building; they also broke the Thracian monopoly concerning trade with the interior. An even less premeditated result of the Macedonian conquest was the destruction of the developing original, stylized, native Thracian art in favour of alien naturalism.

    King Philip II and the Triballi

    Philip II of Macedon had, it seems, several dealings with the Triballi. First, they carried out raids on Macedonia and then Philip forced them to recognize his authority. In the speeches Alexander made during the mutinies of his army, first on the River Hyphasis in India, and then at Opis, he mentions his father’s exploits against the Triballi;

    “Philip found you needy rovers who, dressed mainly in skins, grazed your few sheep on the mountains, and fought over them, without much success, with the Illyrians, Triballi, and neighbouring Thracians. Philip gave you the chlamys to wear instead of skins, he brought you down from the mountains into the plains and made you equal in battle to your barbarian neighbours… From slaves and subject peoples, he made you the masters of those same barbarians who formerly carried you off into slavery and seized your wealth, and he united a large part of Thrace to Macedonia” (Arr. 7.9.2-3).

    “What could we have done worthy of fame and admiration if we had remained in Macedonia and been satisfied to defend our homes with little effort, only driving off our Thracian neighbours, or the Illyrians or the Triballi, or those Greeks who were not well-disposed to us?” (Arr. 5.26.6).

    In both cases the Triballi are mentioned as a people threatening the security and existence of Macedonia, no less than the Illyrians and the South Thracians. While Diodorus and Justin only mention Illyrians and Thracians as the enemies against whom Philip II had to defend his country, it is not difficult to explain this discrepancy. According to Diodorus, the Illyrians held Macedonia enslaved at the time Philip came to the throne, and a few years later, as attested by an Attic inscription too, a coalition was formed against Philip II consisting of Illyrians, Paionians and Thracians, supported by the Athenians. The Triballi are not mentioned at this time because they shared no common border with Macedonia. Only after the Macedonian conquest of Paionia and Dardania did they become neighbours of the Macedonians, and only then could the raids of the Triballi into Macedonian territory, mentioned in Alexander’s speeches, have taken place. These were plundering expeditions, in which the Triballi carried off people, cattle and other wealth from Macedonia.
    Philip not only put a stop to these attacks, but imposed his authority on the Triballi, as he did on other close and more distant neighbours to Macedon. As to how and when this took place, there is no direct information in our sources. Demosthenes says that Philip II “marching about, subjugated Illyrians and Triballi, and even some of the Greeks, and brought under his power considerable forces”. We may suppose that the Macedonian king’s movements included an expedition into Triballian territory. In several later writers we find an echo of the “subjugation of the Triballi”. In a fragment attributed to Porphyry of Tyre (3rd century AD), and preserved by the Byzantine chronographer Syncellus (9th century AD), it is stated that “Philip subdued the Triballi also”. Arrian also speaks of the “revolt” of the Triballi after Philip’s death, which means they had earlier acknowledged the rule of the great Macedonian king. The question is only whether this conquest took place earlier, or in the year 339 BC itself, in connection with the Scythian expedition.

    Justin reports that;

    “As Philip was returning from Scythia the Triballi opposed him and let him know that they would not allow him free passage if they did not obtain a portion of his booty. A quarrel ensued, and soon developed into a battle in which Philip was so severely wounded in the hip that through his body his horse was killed. As all thought he was dead, the booty was lost. Thus the Scythian spoils, like a curse, almost became fatal for the Macedonians” (Justin, 9.3.1-3).

    The incident took place in 339 BC. In Justin’s narrative it comes after the encounter of Philip II with the Scythian King Ataias in the delta of the Danube, which ended in a glorious victory for the Macedonians. The previous history of this Scytho-Macedonian war is interesting in regard to the Triballi too, as it helps fix the place where the latter were able to intercept the Macedonian army and snatch their spoils.

    According to Justin, the cause of the war was as follows: Under pressure from certain Histriani, King Ataias of the Scythians sought help from Philip, promising to appoint him heir. Philip II at that time (340-339 BC) was vainly trying to conquer Byzantion by siege, and so gladly accepted the offer, hoping by new successes to correct the bad impression made by his unsuccessful undertaking against Byzantion. In the meantime, the king of the Histriani died, and the Scythians were freed from danger. Ataias informed Philip that he no longer needed either help or an heir, as he had a son. Philip was offended, and demanded compensation for the trick, whereupon Ataias replied with further insults and mockery. The Macedonian king then led his army along the West Pontic coast and somewhere near the mouth of the Danube overcame the Scythians and carried off a rich booty. Ataias himself, who was then more than ninety years old, was slain in the fight.

    It is difficult, when we have only such a third-rate source as Justin, to penetrate Philip’s real motives for his expedition against the Scythians. In Justin’s record there are two things which hold our attention: the reference to the Histriani and their king (rex Histrianorum), and the fact that Justin does not mention the Triballo-Scythian war, which is known to us from other sources. Finally, his text does not make it clear why the Triballi claimed a share of the booty from Philip.

    The expression rex Histrianorum has long aroused the suspicion of scholars. The Greek city of Istros, south of the Danube delta, to which the ethnic Histriani may refer, had no king. Three solutions to explain this passage in Justin are proposed: 1. instead of Histriani and Histrianorum rex to read Triballi and Triballorum rex; 2. The Histriani were not inhabitants of the Greek city, but the semi-Hellenized indigenous Getai population of present-day Dobruja, who took their name from the river Istros or the nearby town of Istros; 3. the Histriani were inhabitants of the Greek city, to whose aid came the Triballi led by their king.

    It is not easy to decide between these suggestions. Each of them has its weak points. The second has the advantage in that it retains the text unchanged, but it brings in an otherwise unknown tribe and leaves unexplained the demand of the Triballi for a share in the spoils of a war in which they had not taken part. On the other hand, the emendation Triballi and Triballorum rex for Histriani and Histrianorum rex is hard to defend.

    One thing, however, seems certain. The Triballi played an important part in the conflict. Even if Ataias was engaged in war with the Histriani, it was the Triballi who, invading his country either as allies of the Histriani or on their own account, drove him into a situation where he had to turn for help to Philip. The death of their king forced the Triballi to withdraw without finishing the exploit they had undertaken. When, soon after that, Philip appeared and broke the Scythian power, the Triballi could consider that a share of Philip’s spoils belonged to them, for they would have taken them themselves if they had been able to carry the war through to the end. We should not forget that the Triballi did not attack the Macedonian army, but only held it up and demanded a share of the plunder. This fact shows that they considered they had a right to it, and this can only be explained by the supposition that they had previously been at war with Ataias.

    In addition to this fact, which supports the suggestion that it was indeed the Triballi, who by their pressure on the Scythians, forced Ataias to turn to Philip for assistance, we have other direct evidence of their warring with the Scythians in the reign of Ataias, which led scholars to substitute the name Triballi for Histriani in Justin’s text. In Polyaenus’ and Frontinus’ collections of stratagems, there are references to a conflict between the Triballi and the Scythians. According to Polyaenus, “the Scythians, preparing for battle, ordered their peasants and horse-breeders to appear from afar, driving a herd of horses before them, as soon as they saw that the battle was engaged. This they did, and the Triballi, perceiving the great mass of men and horses in the distance, the dust and the cries they raised, thought that the Upper Scythians were approaching to help the enemy and, in fear, ran away” (Polyaen. 7.44.1). Frontius has it rather differently: “Fighting against the numerically superior Triballi, the Scythian king Ataias ordered women, children and all non-combatant population to turn out and, holding raised spears in front of them, to drive herds of donkeys and cattle in the direction of the enemy lines; then he put about a rumour that this was help arriving from the Scythians on the other side. The enemy believed this and withdrew” (Frontin. 2.4.20).

    It is clear that the conflict took place on Scythian territory, and that the Triballi were the aggressors. This is indicated by the facts that the non-combatant population was involved, help was counted on from neighbouring Scythians, and, finally, the Triballi withdrew. We do not know how far Ataias kingdom extended to the west, but it is not necessary to search for actual points of contact between it and Triballian territory. Just as the Triballi got as far as Abdera in 376/375 BC, so now they could have gone down the Danube valley as far as the delta. In both cases, it was a question of a plundering raid and not a migration. This time too, the Triballian forces were more numerous than the Scythian, but their expedition ended in failure and they fled empty-handed.
    Neither Frontius nor Polyaenus answers the question as to when the contest between the Triballi and Ataias took place. As has been said, Ataias lived long and probably had a long reign. Hence the conflict of which the stratagems speak may just have occurred in the 80s of the fourth century BC as near the end of Atatias reign. We are primarily led to connect the Triballo-Scythian war with the above-mentioned events, which preceded Philip’s expedition to Scythia, by the circumstance that the Triballi demanded a share of the spoils, from which we conclude that they must already have been at war with the Scythians. Nothing is more natural than to identify this war with the one spoken of by Frontius and Polyaenus, in which case the expression rex Histianorum in Justin’s text must be emended to rex Triballorum. The only difficulty, it seems to us, is the fact that according to Justin the reason for the retreat was the death of the king of the Triballi, and not a military stratagem. There is, naturally, a way out of this dilemma too, whether we suppose a confusion in connection to the double meaning of the verb decedere (give way, die), or allow that there were two consecutive events: the retreat of the Triballi, alarmed by the Scythian stratagem, and the death of their king as the reason for the end of the warfare.

    Summarizing the above, we might thus briefly reconstruct the course of events: while Ataias was at war with the Greek city of Istros, the Triballi made an attack on the Scythians. Unable to defend himself against the more powerful Triballi enemy, Ataias appealed to King Philip II for help. At the same time, he used the stratagem which drove the Triballi into retreat. Soon after this, the death of the Triballian king delivered the Scythians from the Triballian menace. Ataias informed Philip that he no longer needed help, and refused his demand for compensation. Philip then made war on Ataias, defeated the Scythian army and carried away considerable booty. On his return he was met by the Triballi, who demanded that he should give them a share of the spoils. In the fight that followed Philip was wounded, and the Triballi seized the spoils they had demanded.

    It remains to be discussed whether the Triballian attack on the Macedonian forces took place on Triballian territory, as is usually presumed. The way from Lower Scythia to Macedonia did not lead across Triballian territory, and as Philip was carrying off much plunder, consisting mainly of slaves and cattle (cf. Justin, 9.2.15-16), it would be natural to suppose that he would choose the shortest route and that therefore the clash with the Triballi would take place outside their territory, whether they, knowing of his return, had set out to met him and awaited him somewhere on foreign soil, or were themselves still in Scythia, or on the Scythian border, and there came upon the Macedonian army and seized the spoils. There are, however, indications which point to the possibility that Philip, on his return from Scythia, did not pass through Triballian territory. Speaking of three serious wounds which the Macedonian king sustained in war , Demosthenes’ commentator Didymus says that the third time he was wounded in the right hip, which left him lame, “during the incursion into Triballian territory” (Didymi, de Demosth. Comm.. 13.3-7). Plutarch too, in relation to the same incident, has “in Triballi” (Plut. de Alex. Virt. 1.9). So, if we believe these sources, Philip was wounded “on Triballian territory” and not only “by the Triballi”. Perhaps we should connect with his return from Scythia the fact noted incidentally of his friendship with the Getic king Gudila, a friendship sealed by a marriage alliance. On the way from Scythia to Triballian territory Philip must have passed through the land of the South-Danubian Getai and probably on that occasion Gudila offered him gifts and the hand of his daughter Meda. The reason for this roundabout journey might have been the desire to demonstrate the power of the Macedonian arms to the tribes of the Danube Basin, and to strengthen his control over the Triballi who had previously been subdued.
    For, as we have seen, the sources speak of the “subjection” of the Triballi, as if at the time of the Scythian expedition they were considered to be a people who recognized Philip’s sovereignty. Perhaps they actually thought that, fighting against the Scythians, they were acting as Philip’s allies and contributing to his victory, and based on this their claims to a share of the spoils. The incident which followed showed how ephemeral was their acknowledgement of supremacy. Enforced by a single victory, it could be repudiated at the first opportunity.

    Finally, there is one more reference to Philip and the Triballi. In his “Eulogy of Demosthenes”, Lucian puts the following words into Philip’s mouth: “I would rather have beside me a man (like Demosthenes) for whom the power of persuasion and the force of thought are no less important than the strength of arms, than the cavalry of the Illyrians, Triballi and all the rest of the mercenaries” (Lucian. Demosth. encom. 34). This sentence strongly suggests that Triballian mercenaries were to be found in Philip’s army, although perhaps they were contingents sent by the chief of the Triballi as a sign of submission and a pledge of loyalty.

    The Dardanians

    The Dardanians are among the oldest Balkan tribes which are known to us by name. The evidence suggests that they were living on the Balkan Peninsula before the Thraco-Phrygian migration, which, as we know, dates back to c. 1200 BC.

    For the ancient writers, the Dardanians were chiefly interesting as neighbours of Macedonia, as one of the barbarian peoples who surrounded Macedonia and in their way influenced her fate, not allowing her to break her connections with her Balkan, continental, roots. At first, Macedonia differed little from her neighbours in development and way of life. But from the fifth century BC she became definitely included in the Greek world, and moved further and further apart from the barbarian peoples on her northern border. The political, economic and cultural advance which she made under Philip II quite changed her character. From that time on, her material wealth became an irresistible source of plunder for her poor and primitive neighbours.

    The Dardanians were too far away from Macedonia to be overtaken by the fate of the Paionians (who were gradually, as we know, completely Hellenized and merged with the Macedonians), but they were near enough to be able to take advantage of every moment of weakness in their rich and powerful neighbour. Thus their role was always that of an unsettled people constantly hostile to Macedonia (cf. Livy, 40.57.6) and that role is interwoven in almost all the historical references to them. The political history of the Dardanians is in fact nothing but the history of Dardano-Macedonian conflicts, whether the Dardanians themselves attacked Macedonia, or the Macedonian rulers came to Dardania to intimidate and subdue the Dardanians. Friendly relations between the two peoples never existed. However, the fall of Macedonia, to which they themselves had contributed with all their might, brought the Dardanians no advantages. On the contrary, fate seemed to have united the two peoples in misfortune; the power of the Dardanians was broken at the same time as the Macedonian. Macedonia under Roman rule suffered comparatively little from them. After 168 BC there followed a period when we hear practically nothing of the Dardanians.

    The first historical mention of the Dardanians relates to the time of Philip II (359-336 BC). It is well known that the great Macedonian king, by force or by cunning, made all the neighbouring peoples acknowledge his rule. Among these peoples were the Dardanians. Saved from oblivion, this first mention of the Dardanians is noted, unfortunately, in only one short sentence in Justin: “After he had become master of the situation in Macedonia and ordered its internal affairs, Philip by guile seized and subjugated the Dardanians and the other neighbouring tribes” (Justin, 8.6.2). Judging by the fact that this statement comes at the end of the eighth book of Justin’s Epitome, the victory over the Dardanians must be dated later than the fall of Olynthus (348 BC) and the Peace of Philocrates (346 BC). Perhaps it was in connection with the expedition Philip II undertook against the Illyrians in 344/343 BC. In the first wars of the Macedonian king with the Illyrians, Paionians and Thracians, in 359 and 356, of which Diodorus speaks in more detail, the Dardanians are not mentioned. It is natural that only with the union of Paionia that Dardania entered the sphere of interest of Macedonia. The above-mentioned note represents the one direct trace of the subjugation of Dardania by Philip II. We should perhaps, add to it the epigram of Antipater of Sidon, in which Philip is called “the destroyer of the Dardanians” (Anth. Pal. 6.115).

    At the time of Philip II the subjugation of the Dardanians could have meant nothing but the restraining of restless neighbours, forcing them to recognize the superior power. When in 336 BC Philip was killed, Macedonia was again faced with the danger of risings among all the northern neighbours whom the powerful king had been able to hold in subjection, “Illyrians, Thracians, Dardanians, and the other barbarian tribes of dubious and untrustworthy nature who could never be held in check by any means if they were all to revolt at the same time” (Justin, 11.1.6).

    That means that the Dardanians, like the rest of Macedonia’s neighbours, at the time when Macedonia was at the zenith of her power, under Philip and Alexander, acknowledged her supreme authority.

    Alexander the Great

    The pre-eminence of Macedon in the southern Balkans was maintained by Philip’s son Alexander the Great when he inherited his fathers’ throne. Although the Illyrians and Thracians revolted, and plotted a joint invasion of Macedon, Alexander decisively defeated them in a hard-fought military campaign in 336-335 BC, in which he defeated the southern Thracian tribes, then the Triballi and Getai on the Danube, and then finally the Illyrians (Taulantii?). Thereafter the tribes of Thrace remained loyal vassals to Alexander, and Thracian troops formed about a fifth of the army that Alexander led against the Persian Empire in 334 BC.

    Like Macedonia’s other neighbours, the Triballi attempted to revolt on the news of Philip’s death (Arr. 1.1.4; Diod. 17.8.1; Justin, 11.1.6). It is not quite clear what their grade of dependency was, and what their rejection of it amounted to. Did they refuse to pay tribute, or did they prepare to invade Macedonia? In any case, Philip’s young successor Alexander considered that he must not involve himself in a war with the Persians until he had reduced the neighbouring tribes to obedience. His expedition against the Triballi in the spring of 335 BC was his first great military exploit. In Triballian history, as far as we can envisage it, the war with Alexander occupies a central place. Although there were other causes of their decline, the resistance the Triballi offered Alexander seems to have been the final display of strength of that numerous and powerful people.

    We are fairly well informed about Alexander’s war with the Triballi. In Arrian’s Anabasis there is a lengthy account, though not always clear in details. Other sources also mention Alexander’s expedition against the Triballi (Strabo, 7.3.8; Diod. 17.8.1). Arrian says:
    “As soon as spring appeared, Alexander set forth into Thrace against the Triballi and the Illyrians, for he had heard that the Illyrians and Triballi were in revolt, and he considered that he could not leave them, as they were his neighbours, without subduing them to his power, when he was preparing an expedition which would take him so far from his own country. Starting from Amphipolis, he invaded the part of Thrace inhabited by the so-called autonomous Thracians, with the city of Phillipi and Mount Orbelus on his left. They say that after crossing the river Nestus he reached Mount Haemus on the tenth day” (Arr. 1.1.4).

    In a defile on that mountain the “autonomous Thracians” tried to bar his way. They prepared, at the steepest part of the pass (probably the Shipka Pass), to roll down carts on the Macedonian phalanx and break it. Alexander fought his way through, defeating the Thracians, and then marched into the territory of the Triballi, defeating them near the river Lyginus. Alexander then crossed the Danube near its mouth, defeated the Getai, and received various deputations. He then advanced “towards the land of the Agrianes and the Paeones” (1.5.1), that is, towards the upper Strymon valley and the country between that valley and the upper Axios (Vardar) valley. He was no doubt heading for the Illyrians. While he was on the way the report reached him that Cleitus son of Bardylis was in revolt , that Glaucias the king of the Taulanti had joined his cause, and that the Autariatae intended to attack Alexander ‘on the march’.

    Alexander decided to move at speed. No doubt he suspected that Cleitus and Glaucias were on the way to Upper Macedonia which lay open to ravaging and destruction; for these were the traditional tactics of the Illyrians, “rapto vivere assueti” (Curt. 3.10.9). In order to check the Autariatae, he accepted the offer of Langarus, the king of the Agrianes, to invade Autariatan territory, which lay in Serbia. While this was being done, Alexander was marching alongside the river Erigon and heading for the city Pelion. For this was the city which Cleitus had occupied as the strongest city in the area.

    Alexander besieged Cleitus and his army in Pelion for a short time, when Glaucias arrived with the Taulantian host. Unable to attack the city while Glaucias was threatening his rear, Alexander knew he must move or starve. He deluded his enemies into supposing that he had withdrawn in a panic, heading for Upper Macedonia, before returning suddenly to Pelion to decisively defeat them in a night-time battle. The Taulantians and Dardanians suffered heavy losses in killed and captured, and the survivors fled in disarray, throwing away their weapons to escape. Alexander captured the enemy camp. In this victory Alexander “reduced all the neighbouring barbarians to his rule” (Diod. 17.8.1). Glaucias kept his throne, but became a tributary and subordinate ally of Alexander (Glaucias later had dealings with Kassandros and Pyrrhos): Illyrian troops fought under Alexander’s command in Asia.

    During Alexander’s long absence in Asia (334-323 BC), his general Antipater served as his regent in Macedon, as well as strategos of the pro-Macedonian ‘League of Corinth’, which bound the poleis (city-states) of Greece to Macedon. However, it is clear that ‘Thrace’ remained an unruly and largely autonomous border region within the larger empire of Alexander the Great. Antipater was obliged to focus his efforts in Greece and the Aegean, where he faced continuing threats from Sparta and Athens. King Agis III of Sparta was in alliance with Persia from 338 BC, coordinating his anti-Macedonian efforts with the Persian commanders in the Aegean, Pharnabazus and Autophrades; he was killed fighting Antipater at the battle of Megalopolis in 331 BC. Athens chafed under Macedonian hegemony, and launched the Lamian War, 323-322 BC to free Greece of Macedonian domination.

    As a result, during these years Thrace appears to have been ruled by a subordinate commander to Antipater, a strategos. In either 331 or 325 BC the strategos Zopryon led a large Macedonian army of 30,000 men across the Danube to subjugate the Greek city of Olbia. Zopryon failed, and he was killed and his army destroyed by the Scythians (and perhaps also the Getai and Triballi). In 331/330 BC another strategos of Thrace, named Memnon, plotted with King Suethes III of the Odrysai against the royal regent Antipater. Memnon may have been encouraged by Athens and Sparta. Antipater was forced to make generous terms with Memnon (who later led a force of 5,000 Thracian cavalry into Asia to reinforce Alexander the Great in 324 BC) so that he could focus on Athens and Sparta.


    1. Jack Martin Balcer, ‘The Date of Herodotus IV.1 Darius’ Scythian Expedition’, Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, Vol. 76, 1972, pp. 99-132; J B Bury, ‘The European Expedition of Darius’, The Classical Review, Vol. 11, No. 6, July 1897, pp. 277-282).

    2. R F Hoddinott, The Thracians, Thames & Hudson, New York, 1981, pp. 101-102.

    3. Antigoni Zournatzi, ‘Inscribed Silver Vessels of the Odrysian Kings: Gifts, Tribute and the Diffision of the Forms of “Achaemenid” Metalware in Thrace’, American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 104, Oct. 2000, pp. 683-706.

    4. Nadezda A Gavriljuk, ‘The Graeco-Scythian Slave-trade in the 6th and 5th Centuries BC’, in The Cauldron of Ariantas, Studies Presented to A N Sceglov on the Occasion of His 70th Birthday, Black Sea Studies No. 1, Danish National Research Foundation’s Centre for Black Sea Studies, Aarhus University Press, 2003, pp. 75-85; Alexandru Avram, ‘Some Thoughts about the Black Sea and the Slave Trade before the Roman Domination (6th-1st Centuries BC)’, in The Black Sea in Antiquity, Regional and Interregional Economic Exchanges, Black Sea Studies No. 6, Danish National Research Foundation’s Centre for Black Sea Studies, Aarhus University Press, 2007, pp. 239-251.

    5. Alexander Fol & Ivan Marazov, Thrace and the Thracians, St Martin’s Press, New York, 1977, pp. 151-152.

    6. Z H Archibald, The Odrysian Kingdom of Thrace, Orpheus Unmasked, Oxford Monograph on Classical Archaeology, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2004, p. 102.

    7. David Braund, ‘Black Sea Grain for Athens? From Herodotus to Demosthenes’, Black Sea Studies No. ?, Danish National Research Foundation’s Centre for Black Sea Studies, Aarhus University Press

    8. Alexander Fol & Ivan Marazov, Thrace and the Thracians, St Martin’s Press, New York, 1977, p. 152.

    9. R F Hoddinott, The Thracians, Thames & Hudson, New York, 1981, pp. 104-105.

    10. Alexander Fol & Ivan Marazov, Thrace and the Thracians, St Martin’s Press, New York, 1977, p. 152.

    11. Jennifer Wallace, ‘A (Hi)story of Illyria’, Greece and Rome, Vol. 45, No. 2, October 1998, pp. 213-225.

    12. R L Beaumont, ‘Greek influence in the Adriatic before the 4th century BC’, Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 56, 1936.

    13. N G L Hammond, ‘The Illyrian Atintani, the Epirotic Atintanes’, Journal of Roman Studies, pp. 13-25.

    14. Some scholars believe Bardhylus was king of the Taulantinoi, who lived along the Adriatic littoral, while others believe him to have been King of the Dardanians, who lived to Macedonia’s north.

    15. Harry J Dell, ‘Phillip and Macedonia’s Northern Neighbours’, in M. B. Hatzopoulos and L. D. Loukopoulos (ed.), Phillip of Macedon, Akdotike Athenon: Athens, 1991, pp. 90-99.

    16. John D Grainger, Alexander the Great Failure, Hambledon Continuum, London & New York, 2007, pp. 1-47.

    17. Harry J Dell, ‘Phillip and Macedonia’s Northern Neighbours’, in M. B. Hatzopoulos and L. D. Loukopoulos (ed.), Phillip of Macedon, Akdotike Athenon: Athens, 1991, p. 94.

    18. The Triballi are generally understood to be Thracians; Stephanus of Byzantium says they were an Illyrian tribe. Ion Grumenza asserts that the Triballi were Celtic, although he offers no evidence, see: Ion Grumenza, Dacia. Land of Transylvania, Cornerstone of Ancient Eastern Europe, Hamilton Books, Maryland, 2009, p. 25, 50.

    19. Fanula Papazoglu, The Central Balkans in Pre-Roman Times. Triballi, Autariatae, Dardanians, Scordisci and Moesians, Adolf M Hakkert, Amsterdam, 1978, p.9.

    20. Fanula Papazoglu, The Central Balkans in Pre-Roman Times. Triballi, Autariatae, Dardanians, Scordisci and Moesians, Adolf M Hakkert, Amsterdam, 1978, pp. 9-15.

    21. John D Grainger, Alexander the Great Failure, Hambledon Continuum, London & New York, 2007, pp. 51-57.

    22. Military recruitment was a way of keeping the young and active under strict supervision (Front. 2.2.3), and the cavalry which joined Alexander in Asia during 332 and 331, and especially the 5,000 brought up to the Hydaspes by Memnon in in 326, may well have served as both auxiliaries and hostages. Large scale recruitment of Thracian manpower occurred from the second half of the third century BC; see Z H Archibald, The Odrysian Kingdom of Thrace, Orpheus Unmasked, Oxford Monograph on Classical Archaeology, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 2004, p. 305.

    23. R F Hoddinott, The Thracians, Thames & Hudson, New York, 1981, pp. 114-118.

    24. Diod. 16.4; Justin, 7.67; Front. 2.3.3; Treaty between the Illyrian king Grabus, the Paionion Lyppeius, the Thracian Cetriporis, and Athens: IG II/III, 127.

    25. Isocrates, in Philippus, written immediately after Philocrates’ peace of 346 BC, mentions, among the peoples brought under his rule by the Macedonian king, the Paionians and “the greater part of the Illyrians, except those that dwell near the Adriatic Sea” (c. 21). There is no mention of either the Dardanians or the Triballi.

    26. Justin, 9.2.

    27. On Philip’s war against the Scythians see A Momigliano, ‘Dalla spedizione sciatica di Filippo alla spedizione scitia di Dario’, Athenaeum, Vol. 11, 1933, p. 336. Momigliano interprets the Scythian expedition as the undesired result of the struggle between King Philip II and the Greek cities headed by Byzantion for the Black Sea coast. According to P Alexandrescu, ‘Ataias’, Studii Clasice, Vol. 9, 1967, p. 85, coins with the inscription ATAIAS show that King Ataias, whose kingdom stretched south of the Danube, at one time held sway over the West Pontic Greek city of Kallatis.

    28. For a discussion about the alternative solutions see Fanula Papazoglu, The Central Balkans in Pre-Roman Times. Triballi, Autariatae, Dardanians, Scordisci and Moesians, Adolf M Hakkert, Amsterdam, 1978, pp. 19-20, and n. 24-26.

    29. Fanula Papazoglu, The Central Balkans in Pre-Roman Times. Triballi, Autariatae, Dardanians, Scordisci and Moesians, Adolf M Hakkert, Amsterdam, 1978, pp. 19-23.

    30. Alice Swift Riginos, ‘The Wounding of Philip II of Macedon: Fact and Fabrication’, The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 114, 1994, pp. 103-119.

    31. In Homeric times and later there were Dardani in the northern part of Asia Minor, in the Troad. Their eponymous hero, Dardanus, is sung of in the epic as the founder of the Trojan reigning house. On the southern shore of the Hellespont, between Illium and Abydos, was the city of Dardanus, and, according to tradition, there was also in ancient times a town called Dardania, which afterwards disappeared. The district in which these towns stood was known as Dardania, and from it the straits later got the name of the Dardanelles.

    32. Diod. 16.69.7, speaks of a vigorous attack of Philip’s on Illyria in the year 344/343 BC, on which occasion the Macedonians took many Illyrian forts and carried off a rich booty. Demosthenes (de. cor. 44) mentions the Triballi as well as the Illyrians in the same year.

    33. Diod. 16.4 (victory over Bardylis in 359), 16.8 (conquest of Illyrian territory as far as Lychnidus), 16.22 (victory over the alliance of Illyrians, Thracians and Paionians in 356).

    34. Fanula Papazoglu, The Central Balkans in Pre-Roman Times. Triballi, Autariatae, Dardanians, Scordisci and Moesians, Adolf M Hakkert, Amsterdam, 1978, pp. 131-209.

    35. Cleitus was evidently the son of Bardylis II, the grandson of the very old Bardylis, who had fallen in battle against Philip II of Macedon in 358 BC, and his people were probably the Dardanians.

    36. N G L Hammond, ‘Alexander’s Campaign in Illyria’, The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 94, 1974, pp. 66-87.

    37. N G L Hammond, ‘Alexander’s Campaign in Illyria’, The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 94, 1974, pp. 66-87.

    38. While Alexander the Great took an expeditionary force off to conquer Persia, he left more than half of the Macedonian Army under Antipater to hold the kingdom of Macedon and Greece. Antipater had many generals, and all of them wanted to win glory to match Alexander’s, fearing to be left behind or slighted when the king eventually returned. As the Euxine cities were both fabulously rich and the source of grain for most of Greece, control of the Euxine would have given Antipater another lever to move Athens and Sparta. The timing of Zopryon’s raid seems to match Antipater’s war with Sparta, and it seems likely that Antipater’s first desire would have been to threaten Athens grain supply and keep Athens out of the war.

    Strategou (General)

    The kings and nobles of the Thracian tribes were followed into war by a bodyguard of fierce, well equipped warriors recruited from among the nobility of the Thracian tribes. In the Hellenistic Period these are heavy cavalry, modelled on the hetairoi of the Hellenistic kingdoms. Like them, these heavy cavalry form an elite cavalry to be deployed as a reserve, or in the decisive moment of battle. The Getai and Odrysai were famed for having the best and most numerous cavalry, unlike the warlike hill tribes like the Dioi and Bessoi, which relied upon their infantry. The traditional formation of these cavalry was the wedge, which the Macedonians famously adopted in their own cavalry in the time of Phillip II and Alexander the Great.

    Getai Draco Bearer

    The Draco was one of the best known symbols in the Geto-Dacian era. The earliest evidence of the Draco in Dacia was found on a pottery piece from Prahova county in Romania, dating from the 4th century BC. The Draco had a wolf’s head and the body of a snake. The head was made from bronze and the body from linen and held on a rod. It probably made a whistling sound that resembled a wolf’s howl.

    It was originally developed by the Steppe people such as the Sarmatians and Alans and was adopted by the Roman cavalry sometime after they conquered the Dacians.

    Getai Peltastai (Javelinmen)

    Like all Thracians the Getai had a strong tradition in light infantry warfare. The Peltastai followed the same patterns as their southern Thracian counterparts in terms of weaponry and deployment. Their ranks were made up of Komati, the poorer class in Getic society so they were lighly armed, usually carrying several javelines, and a knife or a sword for close combat. They wore no armor except their shields so were at a great disadvantage if caught in melee. These warriors' greatest defence was their speed and mobility, whick made them ideal for hit and run tactics or ambushes.

    Getai Toxotai (Archers)

    The Getai were famed for their archery skills in the ancient world, as the bow was one of their most important and powerfull weapons. The Geto-Dacian archers, either on foot or horseback, used composite bows to shoot waves of arrows from a distance, thinning the enemy lines before a charge. And, as if the power of the composite bow wasn't enough, the arrrow tips were dipped in viper venom, thus making them an even more deadly opponent. However, being unarmoured and armed with only a knife or sword for self defence, they would not last long in melee with heavy infantry, or up against cavalry, so they would need to be deployed with care.

    Getai Sphendonetai (Slingers)

    Getai slingers were in many ways typical to their counterparts in the Ancient world. Being at the lowest level in their society they were part of the Komati class. They carried little importance in their society, but on the battlefield even the tiniest pebble can turn a battle. They usually carried several slings used for various distances and projectiles either from lead or stone, the lead projectiles being usually sharpened at both ends. For protection they usually had only a small leather or wooden shield, and a knife for close combat. They were best used to pin down an enemy line and then rapidly withdrawn, as they were very vulnerable in melee combat.

    Although the Getai Warband lacked discipline, they did form a capable unit, being determined to defend their homes and families: “… here the unfortunate peasant is holding in one hand a plough and in the other the weapon, the shepherd has a helmet on his head and he is singing from his two whistles stuck with resin and here the poor flock are scared more of wars than of wolves …” (Ovidius).

    Kometai Xiphephoroi (Sword Warband)

    The Kometai Xiphephoroi represent the first attempt to create a professional state army. These warriors were recruited from among the Komati and were trained and supplied by the Geto-Dacian state. Although not heavily armed they carried a shield for protection, a couple of javelins, and a curved sword. And even if they were not the best of the warriors, they formed a reliable line of infantry.

    Getai Logades (Chosen Warriors)

    he Getai Logades, or “Chosen Warriors”, were the best troops available to a tribal chieftain. They were not nobles but arose from a humble status to become a feared warrior by proving themselves in combat. Supplied by the nobles, whom they served, or from raids they were equipped in full panoply of war, with items such as greaves, helmets, shields, a long sword or a sica, javelins, and a spear. Their experience and equipment made them a good match for any enemy they encountered.

    Rhomphaiophoroi (Falxmen)

    The falxmen were the shock troops of the Getai army. Often half naked and carrying such a fearsome weapon that can cut a man in two, these warriors armed with the dreaded falx were used to carve a way through their opponents’ lines and inspire fear amongst the enemy.

    Getai Hippotoxotai (Horse Archers)

    The Getai were master archers with the composite bow, another indicator of the influence of the neighbouring Scythians and Sarmatians upon the Getai. By the third century BC, the composite bow was spreading around the mouth of the Danube brought here by the Scythian tribes. As a secondary weapon, these men carry only a knife or a short "sica" for close fighting, a situation they try and avoid.

    Getai Hippakontistai (Light Cavalry)

    The Getai light cavalry were used as skirmishers and in ambushes. The Hippkontistai were ideal for hit and run tactics and as scouts. They were lightly armed, carrying only a bundle of javalines and a sword and small shield for protection they relied mainly on speed and mobility.

    Getai Xystophoroi (Heavy Cavalry)

    The Getai heavy cavalry were equipped in a manner akin to the Sarmatians, with a lance somewhat like the Sarmatian "kontos", and lorica as armour or a bronze cuirass. This reflects the great influence that the Scythian-Sarmatian peoples of the Steppe had upon the Getai of northern Thrace. The Getai lorica was different from that of the Sarmatians, however, as the armour resembled a shirt covering only the chest and the arms to the elbow and belly going down to the knees. These cavalrymen wore helmets made of metal or hard leather. The forward part of the helmet was inclined towards the front. Some of them had in their back an extension that covered part of the back of the neck. The helmets had also lots of drawings and ornaments.

    Battle Images

    Due to TWC(which is RTR'S home base from a development standpoint) reducing the number of characters that can be squeezed into one post down to 100,000, our previews are going to have be shorter than they used to be, which is bad news for our chief historian, HamilcarBarca (HB) who, as you can see in this preview, scoffs at such small numbers, so we are having to break his Balkan extravaganza into several parts. Which is good news in one sense as it gives us an excuse for bringing you more previews, closer together than we normally would. Another piece of good news is that the aforementioned HB has been his election to the ranks of TWC citizenship. This was long overdue, so congratulations HB, and welcome to the Curia. All you have to do now is decide whether you want to be known as a Citizen, or Civitate, or Artifex. Decisions, decisions!

    Damn! So much more to cover, like the new UI Battle Buttons, and Strategy Map settlement models, but we're out of space! Never mind, we'll see you again - very soon.
    Last edited by -Finn-; 05-11-2010 at 21:14.

  2. #2
    Member Member Visarion's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009

    Default Re: RTR VII Preview II (The Balkans - Part One and The Getai)

    very nice preview! hey guys what in the world is wrong with twcenter? any ideea?
    alea iacta est

  3. #3
    Member Member -Finn-'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    Default Re: RTR VII Preview II (The Balkans - Part One and The Getai)

    Thanks! and I've no idea why TWC is down......its been pretty stable as of late so I'm a little surprised it has been down for so long.


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
Single Sign On provided by vBSSO